After a video went viral showing a California teacher in a classroom wearing blackface and dressed as the rapper Common for Halloween, the teacher has now been placed on leave, school officials told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.
"The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation," said Scott Forstner, the communications specialist of Milpitas Unified School District in Milpitas, north of San Jose.
The clip of the teacher was first shared by 16-year-old Karrington Kenney (@karrington_kk) on Twitter on Friday. "Sooooooooo... one of our WHITE teachers at mhs yesterday decided to paint his face so look like common the rapper yesterday," the user wrote.
The 23-second video showed the teacher in blackface in front of his class as he begins imitating Common's Microsoft AI commercial.
When reached, Kenney told BuzzFeed News they were not a student of the teacher in question, but that they received the video from a friend whose mother is also an instructor at Milpitas Unified School District.
"We decided to post this to bring this to the eye of public," Kenney said. "He genuinely thought it was okay to come to school like this."
While they named the suspected teacher, the school told BuzzFeed News it was "a confidential personnel matter" and therefore could not confirm his identity. BuzzFeed News has reached out to the suspected teacher.
Superintendent Cheryl Jordan and the principal of the school, Francis Rojas, also sent a memo about the incident to parents and faculty on Sunday.
"Blackface paint has a historical and present-day connotation of racism that demeans those of African ancestry," the memo reads, with a link to a History.com page about the racist origins of blackface. "The act was disparaging to our students, parents, colleagues and the Milpitas community we serve."
"We strive to embed our instruction with cultural and historical content so that our students see themselves in what they learn, and can be proud of who they are," said Jordan and Rojas. "We are committed to building an inclusive learning community for our students together with you."